Marine Corps Marathon 2014 Race Recap

Sunday morning Meg and I got up at 5:45. Our plan was to leave the hotel by 6:30 and get on the Metro because both of our races began at 7:55am.

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The marathon start was located at the Pentagon metro stop and the 10K start was a bit further at the Smithsonian metro stop. We got on the crowded metro with a ton of other runners. The ride to my stop was about 15 minutes–there was so much excitement in the air! When we arrived at the Pentagon, I said my goodbyes to Meg and wished her luck on her race! Myself and the other marathon runners got off the metro and met a long line just to get out. I was expecting the crowd, but I was NOT expecting an almost 1 mile long walk to the actual starting line, complete with a security entrance. After waiting what seemed like forever, I finally got in, got to the porta-john line (which felt like it wasn’t moving at all!) and finally rushed to the starting line with about 5 minutes to spare.

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The flyover!

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The Paratrooper–he sailed in and then was going to run the marathon. Awesome!

The gun went off-I discarded my throwaway sweatshirt and we started walking, slowly! It was about 15 minutes until I could see the red arches. I was in disbelief. I was actually running the Marine Corps Marathon, along with almost 40,000 other runners. This is insane.

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As soon as we started running, I made sure to keep my pace lower, not to start out too fast. The hills in the beginning made sure of that! I wasn’t really expecting so many hills in the first few miles!

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I made the decision to wear my Camelbak hydration pack during the race, just to make sure I had water when I needed, especially when I needed to fuel. I brought three Gu packets, 1 honey stinger waffle, and margarita flavored shot blocks (the shot blocks were the only thing I didn’t eat during the race). I also had some  Gatorade on the course.

The first few miles were great. I felt really good around miles 6-12, and was really enjoying the race. I felt so proud to be running this amazing marathon, I even got choked up a few times passing the marines that were at every water station handing out water cups. So grateful!

I stayed on my target pace for the first 13 miles. I had a pace chart on my wrist and was eying it to make sure. Then I hit mile 13.1 where everything went downhill…

Megan was texting me to tell me she was at mile 17. I spent miles 15-17 making sure I didn’t miss her. I just kept running, and at this point we were near the National Mall, so we had some monuments to look at, and the crowds were amazing! Unfortunately my pace kept dropping. My legs were slowing down, and they were hurting, bad! Why on Earth were my legs starting to hurt so early in the race? I was dreading running the next 13 miles. This is not how I wanted my race to turn out.

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Finally I saw Megan. She was the burst of energy I needed to keep going. I remember telling her at mile 17 that my legs were hurting.

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I saw Meg again at mile 19, and that was great. But, I just kept thinking…how can I run 7 more miles? My legs were really letting me down. My mind just wanted to GO but my legs said no. My pace kept dropping. My legs and feet hurt, and so did my glutes. They were aching. I felt like I hadn’t even trained for this race. WHY?

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Instead of focusing on my legs I tried to focus on the scenery. The fact that I was running this amazing race and that I just need to enjoy it–because not everyone gets to do this!

At mile 20 I ripped my pace bracelet off and threw it, angry. No PR (or goal) for me today. I saw the alert on facebook when checking my phone during a walk break that my finish time was estimated at 5:14. A personal worst. I was texting my friend Meredith about how bad this was going–and she had nothing but encouraging words for me, which helped. (Thank you Meredith!)

I was feeling discouraged, and I wanted to just be done with this race. I walked some during miles 22-24. But then when I get mile 25 I realized I only had a little over a mile left. I told myself, “ENJOY IT, BECAUSE YOU ARE RUNNING THE MARINE CORPS MARATHON AND SOON IT WILL BE OVER!” I slowly jogged the last mile and then I saw the sign for mile 26, where five hours earlier I was standing at the start of the race. I was almost done. I ran up the hill at mile 26 (WHY? Why is there a hill?) and saw all the marines and the crowd, too. Megan said she saw me but I didn’t see her–I was just focusing on the finish line. Finally, I was done. An awesome and cute marine handed me my medal and said some nice words to me (although I can’t remember what they were, I just thanked him a billion times) which was followed by the line of marines shaking my hand. Eventually I came to the memorial, the end.

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I wandered around until I found the water (I ran out of my water around mile 20) and it was getting warm, I was thirsty! I walked through the line to get our snack box and then finally to Megan. It felt like a mile walk (it might have been..) where we immediately got in line for the metro because our hotel had a late checkout of 3:30, so we had no time to waste! So we took our after photos while in line for the metro!

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Third marathon, done.

Unfortunately, the race did not go how I wanted it to. But, with every race  comes a lesson. In the few days afterward, I felt this giant wave of disappointment in myself–I knew I could have done better–why did things go the way they did? Did I walk too much the day before? Did I not eat enough? Did I not drink enough? Were my shoes too old? Was my training not good enough? But I can ask questions like these until the cows come home–and I’ll never really know the answer. Not every race will be a PR, I know this. And there will be more races. But it’s easy to lose sight of one major thing–I ran a marathon–and finished it. Not everyone has the strength or ability do something like that. And I did it! And It’s amazing.

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Marine Corps Marathon 2014 Part 1

Friday afternoon after class I flew to DC with my friend Meg for the Marine Corps Marathon. Meg had originally planned to run the marathon with me as her first (she got in via the lottery) but got injured over the summer and couldn’t run the full marathon, so she opted to run the 10K instead. We were ready for a fun race weekend in DC!

Saturday morning after an awesome breakfast buffet at our hotel in Alexandria, we rode the metro to the race expo in DC. Our metro stop was right across from our hotel and that was magnificent. There was a huge line to get into the expo as soon as we stepped out of the metro station. The expo was gigantic and the most amazing race expo I have ever been to.

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We spent about 2 hours wandering around and looking at everything, watching the Marine Corps Band and even getting our photos taken with some cute marines. ;-)

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Thanks, for your service, Marines!

We picked up our race bibs and shirts (they were fleece-lined mock turtlenecks!) and got some official race merch as well. Brooks had an entire store there full of MCM gear. It was quite awesome. I also picked up my shirt from the charity team I was running for, Team Azalea. I decided this would be my race-day shirt, along with a star spangled headband I got at there, too.

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We spent the rest of the day exploring DC near the National Mall and the Washington Monument.

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We went to dinner Saturday night at a pizza place in Alexandria, Pizza Paradiso. It was a short shuttle ride from the hotel. We also walked around the area a little bit to check things out since neither one of us had ever been here before!

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Pre-race carrot cake cupcake!

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Once we got back to the hotel, it was time to get our race gear together. We were pumped!

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Next up: running a marathon.

To be continued….

Hurricane Mountain Fire Tower

One of my favorite days to hike is Columbus Day! I get the day off from work and school and it’s a day to go outside and play because it’s my favorite time of the year–FALL! Because I ran a half marathon on Sunday, I didn’t want to do a very strenuous hike, so I picked Hurricane Mountain in Keene, a ~6 mi hike RT.

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We started at the trail on 9N in Keene, the shortest of the two trails to Hurricane. The trail had been re-routed and was a bit longer than the 2.6 miles, I think it was more like 3. The trail was nice! There were fresh wood planks over the bogs, and the trail was mostly dirt, which felt nice on my feet!

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The first lookout point on the trail gave us a nice view of the foliage. I was impressed that there were still leaves on the trees up here! Gorgeous.

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The second lookout point was a great view. We could see the tiny firetower on top of the mountain–that’s where we were headed! We stopped for a snack and then continued on. It looked much further than it was.

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The top!

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The rocky summit offered a 360 degree view of the surrounding mountains. Amazing. One of my favorite hikes to date!

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We spent some time enjoying the views. It got a bit chilly on top! Then we headed back down, it was a quick descent.

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Hurricane Mountain
~6.0 mi RT from Route 9N Parking Lot, Keene
3678′ Elevation
~2,000′ Ascent

Mohawk Hudson Half Marathon 2014

Sunday was the Mohawk Hudson Half Marathon! This was my first half marathon back in 2010, and I like running it when I can because it does hold a special place in my life!

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This year it was Heather‘s first half marathon! I offered to pace her and Alicia during the race.

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I got to the starting area at Colonie Town Park at around 7:45. The race started at 8:30. We had some time to hang out and chat before the race began. It was a bit chilly, so everyone had their “throwaway” clothes on. I had some cheap gloves and black sweatshirt that I ditched at mile 1.

The day was gorgeous. There were clear skies and the sun was shining.

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We ran the first few miles at around a 10 minute mile (kind of fast for our goal, which was 10:15-10:45 per mile), but I felt great and just kept on running. I have never ran this half with another person so it was nice to have someone to talk to!

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Everyone was feeling great! We got on the Albany Bike Path and with 5.2 miles left, it was the home stretch! Alicia had a PR and Heather and I came in under her goal of 2:20! 2:19:22 to be exact! I was so proud of them both!

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After the race I took advantage of the post-race massage tent, which was nice. I also  stuck around after changing in the changing tent to watch some of our marathoner friends finish. I love watching the end of a marathon! It’s so inspiring and I’m really excited for mine in less than two weeks.

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Another medal for the rack!

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After the race a few of us went to the Olde English Pub for a celebratory beer and brunch. It was delicious and much-deserved!

On Marathon Training – Time to Taper!

Sunday marks two weeks until the big day–Marathon Day! Last weekend I ran my longest run of marathon training, my second 20-miler! I decided to run two 20s this time, just because I felt like it would prepare my legs a little bit better. Both of them went well, and I managed to stay at goal pace, under 11 minute mile.

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My training for this marathon was a bit different than my past training plans. I followed a plan loosely. I didn’t stick to it religiously. I ran about three times a week, with long runs on the weekend and and during the week I did yoga or piyo for some cross training. Sometimes I substituted a long run with a long hike and a Ragnar Relay which worked out well because one gave me a lot of time on my feet and the other gave me a lot of hill work. The most important thing I did was get in the crucial long runs, the 16 miler, the 18 miler, and two 20s. I think this is the most important part of my training!

Usually I can’t run a race without a goal, and this one is no different!

“A” Goal – Finish in 4:35:18, average pace of 10:30 per mile – both my 20 milers were run in 10:50/mile average pace, so this might be a stretch, but there is a chance I’ll have a really great day. However, I’m not counting on this one

“B” Goal Finish in 4:44:55, average pace of 10:52 per mile – seems more realistic given my training

“C” Goal Finish under 4:54:01 (my marathon PR from 2013), average pace under 11:13 per mile – hopefully I can PR again because this year I’m not injured!

Of course, anything can happen on race day, so I’m ready for anything!